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Julie -- what was your regime to combat pf?

Posted by Buck T. on 1/29/04 at 12:15 (143184)

Hi Julie: Am new poster and am familiar with the yoga exercises. But I was wondering if you give me and other new posters a little history about your pf and how you got over it? We might all learn something.


Re: Julie -- what was your regime to combat pf?

Julie on 1/30/04 at 05:34 (143224)

Hello Buck

I was lucky: within a week or so of the onset of my PF I keyed 'heel pain' into Google, found this website, and read the heel pain book. At the same time, my osteopath referred me to a podiatrist. I attribute my relatively rapid recovery (six months) largely to the fact that through this help I gained understanding of what I had to deal with, and began dealing with it quickly.

My understanding is that with most cases of plantar fasciitis, the quicker it is diagnosed and dealt with, the better the outlook. When it isn't diagnosed and dealt with, it can become chronic. The difficulty is that many people don't take foot pain seriously: witness the many who walk or run through the pain and seek help only when the pain has become so severe that they can no longer walk or run. These are the cases that can become chronic.

So my experience is of little use to anyone who has gone down that road. However, I can easily tell you what I think helped me.

Rest. I gave up all unnecessary (i.e. recreational) walking and took taxis whenever public transport wasn't available. Apart from that I carried on with my normal life. My PF was painful, but not disabling. I did this until I was better. It wasn't fun, but it seemed necessary.

Orthotics. I was casted for these fairly quickly, and presumably well, because when they arrived they felt 'right', which I know is not everyone's experience, and I have worn them ever since (three and a half years now).

Taping. My podiatrist taped my foot when I first saw him, and it made such a difference I resolved to learn how to do it myself. His complex, tape-intensive wrapping method defeated me, but I learned a much simpler technique from the heel pain book: the 'two-strip' technique. Just two strips of tape connecting the ball of the foot and the heel. I taped every day for the whole of the healing time, and for several months afterwards just in case, and I have no doubt that taping was a key factor in my healing.

Never going barefoot. Although I've always liked going barefoot, I took very seriously the advice not to, because it made perfect sense. Obviously, without support, their is additional strain on the plantar fascia at its insertion point.

Birkenstocks. When I read here at heelspurs that so many people had been helped by them, I dug an ancient pair out of my shoe closet and started wearing them around the house. I now have five pairs of Arizonas - one upstairs, one downstairs, one in my teaching room, one in Crete, and one spare. My feet go into them the moment they leave my bed and I wear them all the time indoors.

Good walking shoes. I do a lot of hill-walking and London pavement walking, and need a shoe with plenty of support, a thick sole and good tread. Because I have wide feet and bunions, and my shoes have to accommodate them plus orthotics, I need a wide, high toebox. North Face Targas, about which I've enthused many times here, are perfect for me (though I know of no-one else who has tried them). I never wear any other shoes - apart from my Birks. Luckily I'm old, and have never paid much attention to shoe fashions, and I am happy in my big, clumpy Targas and my foot-shaped Birks. It must be much harder for women who have always liked to wear shoes with heels and pointy toes!

The yoga foot exercises. I had been practising these and teaching them for many years, and knew they would be helpful, so I just increased my practice of them. I started doing them every morning before getting out of bed, which decreased the first-step pain; and have kept up this habit, which gets circulation and energy going and so is useful even if you don't have PF. I also made sure that the students who have PF took them on board, and when I was sure that they really did help, I posted them here and Scott kindly provided the link to them.

These, as far as I can recall, were the things that helped.

The things that did NOT help were the weight-bearing stretches recommended by most podiatrists, including mine. I obediently did the wall stretch for a few weeks, until I realised it was making matters worse, and stopped. Everyone here knows my take on this exercise and other weight-bearing stuff: however good they may be for runners, and others with healthy feet and legs, they are anathema for people with injured tissues.

I also iced religiously for a while, and I know others swear by it, but it always gave me more pain, so I stopped.

That's about it, Buck. Please bear in mind what I said first: the important thing is rapid diagnosis and treatment, but that is a fairly useless, discouraging bit of information for anyone who has been suffering for years. Also remember that different things help different people: treatment has to be addressed to the cause of the individual case, and the cause has to be determined by full, accurate evaluation by a podiatrist.

And that's the other really important thing: the help of a good podiatrist. I keep saying this because it concerns me greatly that people are so willing to rely upon information they get on the internet. Heelspurs.com is an excellent website: I've had much help here and have also made valued friends. But although it's useful to know what the experience of others has been, no-one should rely totally on it.

But I hope you've found this interesting, at least!

Re: Julie -- what was your regime to combat pf?

Rick R on 1/30/04 at 07:42 (143226)


Oddly enough, as one that has gone down that chronic road, our list of successful countermeasures is remarkably similar. I also agree regarding the avoidance of the weight bearing stretches while experiencing significant symptoms. They are great (with care and moderation) for prevention after recovery, but not for eliminating them to begin with. I'm not sure the stair one is ever any good, I do not intend to ever experiment with it.


Re: Julie -- what was your regime to combat pf?

Buck T. on 1/30/04 at 09:12 (143232)

Thanks, Julie: I never thought of such a simple idea as taking public transportation to reduce walking for awhile. I agree, we all need a good podiatrist. I'm so close to mine that we laugh about this being a marriage.

One quick question. Did you use foottrainers?

Re: Julie -- what was your regime to combat pf?

Julie on 1/30/04 at 09:32 (143234)

Yes I did, Buck, and I think it's a very good product.

Re: Julie -- what was your regime to combat pf?

Julie on 1/30/04 at 09:42 (143237)

Hi Rick

I think they are essentially good measures, Rick - I gave Buck that rider because I really don't want anyone to think I have the answers for everyone.

I ought to add that I also believe that once a PF-er, always a PF-er (but then I think that about cancer, too, which I've also had). I mean that the factors that predisposed one to PF don't go away - so for instance if one is an over-pronater and needs orthotics and they help, one always needs them and shouldn't abandon them once PF is gone. Same with proper shoes. I have had no trouble for three years - but I'm careful and always will be.

I do like walking barefoot on the beach, though - that's my only crime, and only once in a while.

I think the hanging-off-the-stair stretch is pretty well a no-no for everyone. It will certainly stretch the gastrocnemius/soleus complex, but unless one has complete control it is bound to stress the Achilles tendon. And complete control is difficult when all one's weight is balanced on the balls of one's feet with the heels dropped. How to know how far to drop them? How to avoid dropping them too far? What if one loses one's balance? More than likely, by the time one figures it out, the damage is done.

Just my opinion. But then I'm supposed to be a Safe Teacher. :)

Re: Julie -- what was your regime to combat pf?

john h on 1/30/04 at 10:29 (143243)

Julie: I also do not think much of hanging off stairs with your toes and stretching. I continue to see this in reputable medical publication as a recommended stretch. What gives?

Re: Julie -- what was your regime to combat pf?

Rick R on 1/30/04 at 11:24 (143252)

I just thought your comments were too good to let go without support from one of the chronic cases. No doubt in my mind about the permanence of being a PF'er. Yes we can become symptom free and proclaim that we are 'cured' but to stay that way we need to take precautions others don't.


Re: Julie -- what was your regime to combat pf?

Suzanne D. on 1/30/04 at 12:06 (143256)

Good points! And you know, a nice thing that happened to me when I found the right combination of orthotics and shoes was that my back problems disappeared! For ten years I had gone at least once a month to a chiropractor for lower back pain. With his adjustments, it stayed pretty well under control, but if I went a month without a visit, it really began to hurt. I have honestly not had back pain in the past two years.

Then one day I wore - just for a short time - some snow boots which would not accomodate my inserts. I didn't want to fall in the snow, so I wore them. Not only did my feet start to hurt, but my back did as well! The other time I wore them this winter, I carried other shoes with me and changed as soon as I got in the building.

I would love to buy some Birk Footprints boots in which I could place my modified footbeds. But I wear a 43 and the boots I have seen online which I like all stop at size 42. Oh, well, it doesn't snow that much here, and we're out of school most of the time when it does.

Suzanne :)

Re: Julie -- what was your regime to combat pf?

Kathy G on 2/04/04 at 09:33 (143609)


I don't understand why the Physical Therapists and the orthopedic surgeon I saw recommended the stair hanging. I did it for about two weeks until I found this site and then I stopped. I have to admit, at the time, it felt good and seemed to help my calf pain, which, by the way, I'm currently suffering from. My PT even recommended that I hang from the stairs for up to a half hour. She noticed that I always had a book with me and thought that I wouldn't mind doing it that long if I could read at the same time.

The way I see it, the PT's and the orthopedic community have a totally different take on what works and what doesn't work. Or maybe the hanging does work for the majority of people and the people here are the ones it didn't work for? Who knows?

I have to admit, when my calf is killing me, I have to use great self control not to go out and hang myself (by the feet, off the stairs!;)) but I use my tilt board instead.

Re: Julie -- what was your regime to combat pf?

Julie on 2/04/04 at 11:33 (143618)


The point about the hanging-off-the-stair stretch is that it's so easy to damage the achilles tendon when you do it, because you're supporting your entire body weight on the balls of your feet/ If you do that in a standing position, i.e. coming up onto tiptoes, and you lose your balance, the ground isn't very far away. In the stair hanging position, the danger of losing balance and falling, or simply putting too much strain on the achilles tendon and plantar fascia, is - I feel - considerable. Total control is needed.

I think the reason PTs and even foot doctors recommend it is that they know it's a good calf-stretching exercise (which it is) but they fail to distinguish between athletes and others who train and are very aware of their bodies and what they can do, and normal, unfit, possibly overweight people - let alone people with sick feet. It's a good example of what I have said so often here. though not for awhile, so I will repeat it :).


I doubt whether those who tell PF sufferers to hang off a stair have thought of this.

Re: Julie -- what was your regime to combat pf?

john h on 2/06/04 at 08:57 (143743)

Kathy: i hung by my toes for so long I was ready for a role in Planet of the Apes. I do have an incline board where you have more control which I use on occasion. They only cost about $20.00